Xblaze Lost: Memories (PlayStation 3) Review

By Thom Compton 08.10.2015

Review for Xblaze Lost: Memories on PlayStation 3

Visual novels are very common place in some countries, and very strange in others. Gamers, much like food and music lovers, often do well to explore genres outside of their wheelhouse. Currently, many find solace in the likes of Call of Duty or Candy Crush. Perhaps diving into a new genre, like the visual novel, can help grow a deeper appreciation for the medium. Is Xblaze Lost: Memories the title to break newcomers in, or is it just the kind only genre lovers would appreciate?

A spin-off of the BlazBlue fighting series, and taking place 150 years before those events, Xblaze Lost: Memories is a novel attempt (pun definitely intended) at two stories with very different levels of approachability. The character Me, who raises her little sister all alone, must find and rescue her before it's too late. Es, a girl of mysterious origin, attempts to live a life despite having a rather unorthodox past. The two tales are definitely full of interesting characters, but the game's earliest issues arrive in Me's story.

Me is joined on her quest to save her sister by a woman named Nobody. Their relationship, it would be easy to imagine, would be that of the straight man and the fall guy. Me could be very serious, while Nobody is more laughable and charming a majority of the time, but, frequently, she's just annoying. It's all the easier, however, to sympathise with Me, who seems almost as annoyed with Nobody as the player. The times that Me is annoyed seem to happen all too often, though, removing a lot of their comedic punch.

Es' story is much deeper, and should be explored fully. Es, herself, is fairly relatable. No spoilers warning needed, as the adventure unfolds in a long and harrowing journey for both women. It's much better to play and explore the narrative, but it's safe to say Es' story is definitely the more fleshed out experience.

It's also the more confusing of the two. It's trying to be too many things too often. It features a young romance, espionage, and sci-fi frills. While anime tends to blur the lines a story tells, this game manages to be confusing very often. Fortunately, it pulls it all back together into a good, clean package, although it may not be the monumental tale many fans of the series wanted.

Screenshot for Xblaze Lost: Memories on PlayStation 3

Unlike a lot of visual novels, Xblaze Lost: Memories also enjoys the occasional interactive gameplay. Exploring the Phantom Field in search of Me's sister is a pleasant break from the story. It plays like a dungeon crawler, asking the player to explore each of the floors of the Phantom Field in search of Memory Fragments and TIPS (descriptions of various in-game terminology). These short experiences are much more important than it might seem. Collecting these fragments allows Es' memories to be rebuilt, and her story explored in greater depth.

Other distractions feel more hollow, like Nobody's insufferable, but very short, Quiz Rounds. Answering all of the questions correctly rewards with some memory fragments and a trophy, but this doesn't even feel cohesive or challenging, as the quiz can be completed, literally, any time from the Phantom Field.

There's nothing blatantly wrong with Xblaze Lost: Memories, but there are some glaring concerns. The animation often feels lazy, with stills being used far too often. Early on especially, many characters' mouths don't even move when they are speaking. The game tends to be shamelessly sexual, too. One scene, in particular, features a still of Es almost nude, while a conversation is carried on. Enemies are eventually introduced in the Phantom Field, but they don't really do much of anything, only slowing the player down a little for a brief moment.

Beyond this, Xblaze Lost: Memories is an interesting romp that never excels or falls apart like it feels it could. Sometimes the story barely holds together, becoming confusing quickly. At other times, it feels boring and tedious. What little gameplay is involved feels pretty enjoyable at first, but never blossoms into anything other than filler. If the original hasn't be played before, or perhaps this is a first experience with visual novels in general, this title may be a turn off.

Screenshot for Xblaze Lost: Memories on PlayStation 3

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

To answer the earlier question, Xblaze Lost: Memories is definitely not the kind of experience to entice newcomers to the visual novel genre. This was more than likely not the goal, but it feels like a missed opportunity. What's left behind is a complicated story and phoned-in gameplay. Keep in mind, whenever it works, which it mostly does, it is enjoyable, but it never feels like an experience worth revisiting once it's over.

Developer

Arc System Works

Publisher

Aksys

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date None   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date None   

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